The Dixon Duchesses tennis team didn't lose its top two singles players, it gained a No. 1 doubles team.
Second-year coach Steve Boll needed a little convincing, but seniors Hayley Kent and Jessica VanOosten finally won out. The former Nos. 1 and 2 singles players will now be the team's No. 1 doubles tandem.
Kent played No. 3 doubles as a freshman and No. 2 doubles as a sophomore before moving to the No. 1 singles spot last season.
"I kind of wanted to play doubles, and I asked Jessica, and it turned out she wanted to as well," Kent said. "We played together over the summer, and we kept bothering coach Boll about it. He had some hesitation, because we were No. 1 and 2 in singles, and that's a big gap to fill. But, I think when he saw us play over the summer, he realized what a good team we were."
"I was a little concered at first that it might leave us with a gap in singles," Boll said. "But, after watching a couple practices, I think it's going to work out quite nicely for us. I think it's going to wind up working in our favor."
VanOosten, who did not take up the game until eighth grade, likes the way she and Kent mesh.
"I have my strongpoints and weakpoints, but I think I'm a well-rounded player," VanOosten said. "People tell me I'm good at the net, but I feel like I'm better with the high lobs and baseline stuff. Hayley's really good at the net, and she's really good at the baseline. She's good at everything."
VanOosten thinks she and Kent have a good chance to make it to state, as does Boll. Kent certainly would love to get to state, but it's not her highest priority.
"My chances on making it to state is not as high of an importance to me as it used to be," said Kent, whose sister Amanda was a 4-year state qualifier at Dixon. "It's my senior year, and I want to have fun. I feel like I can have more fun with Jessica playing doubles than I will playing singles."
Kent and VanOosten had a lot of fun playing doubles together in summer tournaments, but one moment of fun stood above the rest. It was during a lesson.
"When you go for a dramatic smash, you really shouldn't make sound effects, because that takes away your focus," Kent said. "Then, you go, 'Bam!,' and the ball drops right next to you. That happened. Jessica was laughing at me. I was laughing at me. The people across the court were laughing at me."
(Dixon's early schedule)
Today: Dixon at Mendota, 4:30 p.m.
Thursday: Rock Island at Dixon, 4:30 p.m.
Saturday: Dixon at Freeport Quadrangular, 8 a.m.